Friday, January 28, 2011

It's hard to say good-bye

I'm in my final week of preparations for leaving.  I got to spend time with Rosie and Keith while they finalize some wedding plans.  We went to Black Gold for a tasting which was interesting, fun and good!  We also got to go cake tasting which was a lot of fun and yummy!  Rosie and Keith will have a phenomenal wedding cake and that's all I'm going to say here.  Next up was visiting a florist (check that item off the to-do list), a DJ (another check!) and they were supposed to meet with an officiant, but that got rescheduled.  It was a very busy weekend and I am completely embarrassed to say that I didn't take my camera to anything.  :(  Oy.

Next up was a bon voyage party at my sister's house.  It was really nice seeing everyone before I leave and my sister had the perfect going away menu - Taco Night and a cake!  But really - again no camera??!!  Oy.  Oy.

Next up on the agenda was to go visit my son and his family and do some babysitting for them.  A dual purpose trip, but the pleasure was all mine!  I left home Tuesday morning to spend Tuesday night and Wednesday night with the kids while Chris and Andrea are at work.  Our oldest grandson (almost 13!) is incredibly independent and responsible.  He doesn't need babysitting and did everything he was supposed to do without being told.  He loves video games and spent the majority of his time playing with friends.  What a great kid!

Our youngest grandson does need babysitting, although not much.  It was incredible to watch him get ready for his bath - he knows where everything is and gets it all out himself - bubble bath, wash cloth and toys.  And then he puts everything away.  What a great kid!
This kidlet loves the bath!
 He also loves his books before bed and playing with his train.  His other great love? Elmo!
Reading the book to Grandma

Oh no!  The trains crashed again!
My visit was way too short but I was grateful to spend some time with Chris, Andrea and the kids before I leave for France.  I had to get up early Thursday morning to head home as I had an appointment with the Eminent Domain specialist at 11:00 am.  The meeting went well and now all that's left to do is move out of the studio and get packed!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Paris Apartment

Hoo boy.  This is a daunting task.  Finding a long term vacation rental is the way to go - since obviously we won't be signing a 1-year lease.  I'm not even sure how it's done in France or Paris, but shorter term stays for business and pleasure are quite common.  Ron has left this task pretty much up to me, and I think that's a good thing.  I have been perusing websites and taking notes and listing favorites.  But there's a lot to consider; the rent ($$$!!!), the location (Ron has to be able to get to work via public transit with a minimum of hassle), the neighborhood and the apartment itself.  So after hours of poring over apartments and maps and metro maps, I've narrowed down the search to two preferred areas; the 15th and 8th Arrondissements.

I found this map at Planet Ware, a guide to world travel, and it shows the layout of the Arrondissements: 

You might be wondering why just any place in Paris doesn't work - it is because the Seine runs through the city and public transportation doesn't cross it in all places.  See where the Seine is exiting the map in the lower left corner?  Just off the map, the Seine loops back up and sort of parallels itself for a bit before heading off to the West.  Saint Cloud is on the opposite side of that loop, and the T2 line runs parallel to the Seine on the west side, with a stop very close to where Ron works.  So easy access to the T2 line is important.  The 15th has metro lines that link up directly with T2 and so does the 8th.  They link at opposite ends, and Saint Cloud is sort of in the middle of the T2, so both would work.

I found an apartment that looks really nice - it has one bedroom, a bathroom, a toilette, a living area and a nice-sized, fully-equipped kitchen.  That last little bit isn't trivial!  Many kitchens in Paris apartments are nothing more than a closet fitted with a few items; a 2 burner hot plate, a bar-sized refrigerator and a microwave oven.  All we know about this apartment is that it is 642 square feet, right across the street from the Convention metro stop, it is on the 2nd floor (3rd floor to us) with no elevator, the rent isn't ridiculous, and in the very small pictures we've seen, it looks really nice.  We have contacted the agency, and Ron will get to look at it this weekend!

As a preliminary step though, he decided to walk to the area and check it out.  Here's what he saw:
The Paris Apartment - 2 floors above the Cafe
The Apartment Building Entrance
Looking back towards the corner on Rue de la Convention
The Boulangerie and Patisserie diagonally across the corner
The Fromagerie
The post office

The Produce Shop
And of course, a slice of Americana
There's also butcher shops, cleaners, more boulangeries, clothing shops, housewares shops, and a host of other shops, theaters and restaurants very close by.  All in all, it looks like a great neighborhood!

Monday, January 17, 2011

5661 Miles...

and 9 hours apart.  Ugh.  He's there and I'm here.  I have a huge list of things to do before I leave and it is overwhelming at times.  Google chat has been a lifesaver - it's free! and we can communicate quickly in the short amount of time our days overlap.  I'm spending most of my days turning things off, turning other things on, coordinating a move and making sure that when I leave, we'll be able to function there.  There are A LOT of little things that need doing when you're not going to be home for 2 or 3 months!  I don't have photos of me trying to cross things off the to-do list. Instead, I have photos from Ron.  He's spending his days working, going for walks, living in a hotel and we're working together to rent an apartment.   His photos are much more interesting!

First - here is where Ron has been staying.  The Adagio Porte de Versailles is really quite nice!

The front of the hotel - the room at the top on the right is his room!
The view down to the entrance!
The view East from the balcony - the heart of Paris is that-a-way
The view West from the balcony - it's big but there is nothing to sit on and it's VERY cold!

The entry hall; doorways lead to bathroom (far left), kitchen and work area (left) and the bedroom (right).
The bedroom
Sitting area/work area, view 1
Sitting/work area, view 2, shows pass-thru to kithenette

As hotel rooms go, it's pretty big with enough room to spread out.  Depending on when we get an apartment, I may be staying here with Ron for awhile!

So while I got to visit with kidlets, family and friends before I leave, Ron was alone in Paris.  He consoled himself with a few walks and sightseeing.  Here are some of his favorites, along with his special brand of commentary.
detail of Eiffel Tower

People on the 1st level of the Eiffel Tower

View from The Trocadero

I thought I was getting away from this Mickey Mouse organization!
Hmmm...this doesn't look like what I ordered.
This coffee tastes like merde!
Cite Metro Station
Taking a photo of the Eiffel Tower - no, I don't know what they're trying to achieve

Monday, January 10, 2011


The two days leading up to Ron's departure were bittersweet.  I was consumed with making sure he would have everything he needed and spending time together before being separated for several weeks and yet the excitement of jetting off to Paris was undeniable. 

The laundry was done, most everything was packed in two huge suitcases, one carry on and a laptop bag.  There were some clothing items that needed to be picked up and packed on Monday, but despite our chaotic methodology, things had fallen neatly into place.  We even had time to chill Sunday night and watch a movie!

Ron wanted one last Original House of Pancakes breakfast before we left.  So we had a nice leisurely breakfast and made more lists on the back of napkins.  We picked up the tailored clothing and went home for the final packing.  There were lots of things that we wanted to do before Ron left, but they ended up as things for me to do before I leave.  We prioritized and made sure if it was something Ron had to do, he did it.  Everything else could wait.  

We set off for the airport and had plenty of time for check-in and such.  I was worried about Ron's flight - he was flying Air France, a partner to Delta Air Lines.  Most of Delta's flights had stops in the southeast and those flights were canceled due to ice and snow! See?  Probable doesn't always mean reality.  You never know what cosmic event will conspire to impose that 0.05%!   

It all worked out fine - the flight was on time, Ron got checked in, bags through security and the small matter of $155 for the extra overweight bag were all handled quickly and smoothly.  We allowed plenty of time, so we walked down to the International Terminal and had lunch/dinner together.  By the time we walked back to Terminal 2, it was time for Ron to go through security and board his flight.  I drove home, but once he was through security Ron called and we chatted one last time via cell phone and then he was off! 

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Ready, set...

One plane ticket purchased.  One on hold.
Travel advisory issued, new clothes purchased to fit in with the Parisian crowd.
Hotel reservations made.  For one.
Visa application sent.

There are so many details, but the most important one apparently, is to get Ron to Paris.  What a whirlwind week!

I don't think I have ever bounced from one task to another so quickly and so inefficiently as I have this week.  The thought of living in a charming apartment in Paris overwhelms me and I am compelled to spend way too much time on the internet perusing the offerings.  But Ron needs a new wardrobe to fit in with the dressier dressed Parisians, and documents need to be scanned and saved and bills need to be paid and arrangements for mail and taking care of the yard need to be made.  And there are weddings to edit and photos to finish and amongst all of this there is a studio to close*.

So we have been jumping from one task to another and little by little the dust has started to settle and the chaos reigned in.  There are a lot of check marks on the to-do list which makes us feel good.  There are a lot of things still left to do.  The best we can do right now is make sure Ron has everything he needs to survive when his feet hit the ground there on Tuesday, January 11th.  His flight leaves LAX on Monday at 6:30 pm, arrives in Paris at 2:30 pm on the 11th and he starts work at 9:00 am Wednesday morning.

Ron's first home in Paris will be at the Hotel Adagio Porte De Versailles.  It looks nice:

The rooms appear to be roomy enough, with a sleeping area and a work area.  Check out the link for the hotel:  Hotel Adagio Porte de Versailles

The hotel is right outside the Périphérique and is actually in the suburb of Issy Les Moulineaux.   The hotel supposedly has easy access to public transportation so Ron can get to work easily.  We'll see how it goes!

The probable meter is almost pegged and is resting comfortably at 99.95%.

*We love our photo studio and have enjoyed our time their immensely.  Unfortunately, the county likes its location a lot for railroad improvements, and there's this pesky little thing called eminent domain that let's them take it.  So take it they are, and although we've known for some time that this day would come, it's here.  So along with getting Ron to Paris, I also have to move out of my studio.  The pain of it all is rather tempered by moving to Paris, though!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

And so it begins

We had a wonderful holiday with family and friends.  We played in the snow.  We ate lots of great food.  We saw lots of deer and were finally rewarded with multiple buck sightings.  The holiday week lasted through Monday, January 3rd.
Seven deer on the driveway

More deer below the deck, including a young buck!

They see us and stare at us but they don't run away!

Our winter wonder land!
Beautiful view at sunset!

My famous buttermilk pancakes!
Fueled up for a day in the snow
They look nice don't they?  They lobbed snow balls at me right after the lovely family photo was taken!
Cousins - Mychal and Rosie
Archer's first trip to the snow!
Preston cruisin' and crashin'!

Normally, we would like the holiday and time off to last forever.  This time though, we were ready to head home and find out how probable probable is.  Ron got to work on Tuesday, January 4th and shifted into high gear.  Lists were mailed and emailed.  Passports were scanned and sent into the ether.  Connections with people in the US and Paris were made.  Emails were flying around so fast I had trouble keeping track of them all.   Most importantly, it was confirmed.  Ron is going to Paris.  Which means Denice is going to Paris.  The odds just got better.  Still, there are no plane tickets or living arrangements or dates set.  I put the probable meter at 99.85%.  It's so probable, I can taste it!