Wednesday, December 4, 2019

November, November

With all the cooking required out of Thanksgiving, I completely forgot about my monthly picture-a-day post.  Let's remedy that.

November 1 - Waiting at the Bus Stop with My Girl

November 2 - A Versailles Pumpkin Patch

November 3 - After Church Hangout

November 4 - Rare November Sunshine

November 5 - The orange doesn't last for long.

November 6 - Autumn in the City

November 7 - The yellow leaves have been the prettiest this year.  

November 8 - A Walk in the Park

November 9 - The park is a magical place in the autumn.

November 11 - Tea at the British Embassy

November 12 - We found a big pumpkin walking to the bakery.

November 13 - Going to small group in the city gave me some amazing views.

November 14 - An Old-Fashioned Window

November 15 - My Dishwasher

November 16 - A lot of places in France are getting rid of their plastic straws, and we got a laugh out of McDonald's directions for the new kids' cup.

November 17 - Christmas Decor going up at the Mall

November 18 - I found some fun teas at Costco.

November 19 - Ella calls this neighborhood place The Lantern Waste.

November 20 - Tried a Delightfully-Named Restaurant with a Friend

November 21 - I love the railroad tracks in the fall.

November 22 - I bought this when we were in England in September; it was one of my favorite coffees.

November 23 - I really enjoyed reading this this month.

November 24 - Back Garden Yellows

November 25 - A Very Cool Sculpture of Famous Lovers

November 26 - A Street with a Hashtag

November 27 - Nothing makes you feel more at home than the smell of cornbread in a skillet.

November 28 - Thanksgiving

November 29 - I walked to the grocery store that was farther away just to see this tree.

November 30 - "Raise your hand if you're American!"

I'm so glad I went back and spent the time looking at November as a whole.  Amidst all of the everyday jobs of teaching school and endless rounds of laundry, it's easy for me to forget about all the many cool things I did this month.  I visited the British Embassy twice, had two meals out with two different friends, got together with my book club, and celebrated two Thanksgivings.  There's a lot of things to remember and many reasons to give thanks.  Thanksgiving was so last week (😉), but what are you thankful for?

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Paris in the Fall

When the sky is a bright blue the Arc shines white against its backdrop.  I sit on a bench with a friend and talk while more and more tourists crowd the sidewalk.  The chestnut trees drop their leaves first.  They’re brown and crunchy under my feet as I walk down the garden paths beside the Champs-Élysées about an hour later.

A man with a crêpe stand on a bicycle jogs beside it as he pushes it quickly down the path.  The fountains in the Jardin des Ambassadeurs spray water cheerfully.  It won’t be long before they’re turned off for the winter.  I notice a grouping of statues I’ve never seen before, but I don’t see a sign explaining what they are. I walked to this park a lot when we lived in the city.

I sit on a bench to rest my feet.  Even small outings in Paris begin to hurt your feet, and I’ve walked the length of the Champs-Élysées.  I scroll through Instagram and listen to an American couple on the bench next to me debate which way to go as they study a map, rotating it to get the direction right.  I stop and offer them help when I get up to leave, but they’ve figured it out.  They were looking for the nearest Metro stop.  

I continue walking through construction work still happening at Place de la Concorde and make it to W.H. Smith.  It’s a haven of beautiful books, but I have no budget for buying new books, except I do pick up the newest illustrated Harry Potter for Ella.  We had it on pre-order at Amazon, but we’ve had so many problems with deliveries lately.  I’m happy with the decision to stop in and buy it here, because I get a free tote bag with the cover illustration on it.  The only downside is I now have to carry this very heavy book that I don’t want to get damaged around Paris the rest of the afternoon.  

I cross the Rue de Rivoli for a little walk in Tuileries.  I sit in a reclining chair and people watch for a few minutes, drinking the Strawberry Cream Diet Coke I picked up at W.H. Smith.  I keep wishing they’d stock Diet Mountain Dews again.  It was such a fun surprise that time I discovered them there, a happy reminder of home.  It won't be long before the long rows of trees have scrawny bare limbs, but for now, autumn is in Paris.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Things Noticed Around Italy

In Naples, a young man wearing a cap walks down a narrow, cobble-stoned street and stops, scanning an Amazon package with a handheld scanner, modern technology on a street that once saw the rise and fall of the Greeks and Romans.  The cracks between the stones are filled with broken glass.  I hold on tightly to my purse.  We walk by a Roman tower, standing tall since A.D. 500.   Just beyond it our group stops at a coffee bar to drink espresso.  The children laugh at a street performer playing a stringed instrument with the "help" of a puppet.  We drop a coin in his hat, and his painted face smiles as he speaks in a high voice, “Thank you!”

We eat unknown fried food out of a paper cone. Biting into the first one I discover macaroni in a flavorful sauce.  Ella bites into a fried ball of a rice, pea, and tomato sauce mixture.  One tastes like a southern potato casserole you'd eat at Thanksgiving.  There is fried zucchini and eggplant, ending with a salty ball of fried dough.  I'm convinced I need more zucchini and eggplant in my life.

We walk into yet another old church.  In this one the bones of a saint have been covered over with wax shaped to look like his features.  The next church contains the relics of saints in a box behind a statue of their faces.  In the old Greek center of town we see a temple built to Dionysus.  

In the small hamlet of Erchie on the Amalfi Coast, an older woman with gray hair pulled back steps out on her balcony overlooking the sea, carefully hanging strips of lace on a clothesline to dry.  Her skin is wrinkled from constant exposure to Mediterranean sun.  She hangs doilies and delicate white tablecloths beside the lace.  James counts the steps from the beach up to our Airbnb:  190.  The mountains in the distance are a pale blue, almost blending in with the sky.

In Rome a young man without the use of his legs moves himself around the piazza in front of the Pantheon on a rolling board, begging.  Italians board the train for their morning commute bundled in puffy jackets and scarves.  The temperature is around 60 and will rise to 75 today.  When I order a frozen espresso drink the barista says, “Mamma Mia!” in disbelief.  He thinks it is too cold for a summertime drink in the morning.  

It seems that around every corner is a new piazza and yet another obelisk.  I wonder how Egypt has any left.  Most of the obelisks are no longer topped by images of Roman gods but with crosses, replaced when the seat of power moved from emperors to popes.  

I walk the road between triumphal arches and stand in the place where Julius Ceasar’s funeral took place.  The apostle Paul walked these streets now broken by time.  He wrote a letter to Timothy here.  He kept believing that Jesus is who He says He is here.  He kept believing he was free even while locked in prison, kept believing that the best is yet to come.  He asks his friends to bring his scrolls and his cloak before winter.

I walk away remembering other words Paul wrote with these very scenes in his mind:

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ.