Monthly Archives: January 2022

Dogs in Paris

Well , I can’t claim that I know Paris , so let’s just shoot from the hip , so to speak . Ada and I have been over here for , well , a couple of weeks or three weeks , a few days or ten years —- take your pick . I’ve sort of lost sense of time . If I knew what date it is I could figure it out .

I just got back from the dog park with Tola , Ada’s sister’s dog . Tola wants to run , mainly , which requires a big enough companion dog with whom to trot along . Most of the dogs at the dog park are tiny little beasts . Cute , but tiny . A couple of larger ones today weren’t runners , I guess . They seem to be content with sniffing other dogs and turning in tight circles , but not running . Tola waits for that one longed -for dog who will take off and run the length of the area ; Tola will follow along in a game of chase —– but no luck today .

Tola is a Mexican hairless acquired , I think, from Mauritania . Maybe I got that wrong . Someplace that sounds like Mauritania . If I had a map , I would have a better sense of where some of these places are ; but I don’t . Anyway , it’s a nice dog , well behaved , courteous with people and other dogs . She runs like a greyhound . She waits mostly in vain for that longed-for runner to chase around with . I feel a little sorry for her as she watches those small dogs scuttling around in tight circles , taking off at a run but then abandoning the attempt immediately .

Tola wears a little doggie sweater and an outer coat . It’s red . Before I came over here I kind of thought the dog clothing thing was a lot of frou-frou . Ada’s sister had explained that since her dog is hairless it needs the extra protection from the elements . French froufrou , I thought ; but now I suppose the beast does get cold in the cold Paris air . I don’t know about in hot weather . We wash her paws after we come home . Maybe that makes sense , too . At any rate , dogs are a lot of work . We walk her three times a day , a long walk in the middle of the day . Entirely too much work , I say . It’s a great dog , but I’m glad it’s not mine .

Ada and I are responsible for the dog while Ada’s sis is in the hospital . She had heart surgery a week or so ago and came through it well . She will stay in rehab for ten days , and after that we’ll have to see how she does with the dog .

Sounds like we came to Paris to dog sit . Not exactly.

Yesterday Ada and I walked the dog downtown into the center of things , near the Opera , amongst the tourists , and we got seriously disoriented ; had to let GPS bail us out to find our way home . Ada’s sister couldn’t be there to guide us , and that dog of hers was of no use either . If Tola knew the way ( I’m quite sure that she did ) she wasn’t talking . Dogs !


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Paris 3rd post

Tomorrow I will walk over to the 6th arrondissement to try to find a friend of my friend Ivan . The guy runs a bookshop called the San Francisco Bookstore . American guy from San Francisco who has been living in Paris for about ten years . ” He likes cognac ,” Ivan told me over the phone , ” and I think that may have something to do with why he stayed over there “.

I told Ivan about our troubles with our ATM cards . Ada and I had expected to get our cash easily from ATM machines . We’ve fairly recently used the same cards in Poland and Ireland to get cash . Ah , but this is France ! We tried several different ATM machines at first , tried different amounts , and tried a few different banks . Nothing . So we thought that we could resolve the problem by talking to someone at a bank . Ah , but this is France ! We were told at different banks that they only serve customers of that particular bank . I walked over to the branch of one bank that specializes in international commerce . Supposedly . Again , nothing .

To be fair to France , I finally called our local bank branch in Arcadia, California and was told that we should have a newer version of the ATM card ; that our cards won’t work . I had previously called the corporate number collect three times and laid out the problem with the cards we had with us . They said that our cards should work almost anywhere in the world ; sent us an e-mail to confirm that . They checked the card numbers and could see no problem “from our end” , they said . Must be those French .

Ivan mentioned that he doesn’t like France ; doesn’t like their food ; doesn’t like their customs ; doesn’t like the people . He’s opinionated and not shy about saying what he thinks . Well , for example , he told me a few months ago that the entire economy of the US would collapse by Christmas and that would lead to world chaos . That didn’t happen by Christmas and I asked him about that . ” In February ,” he said . I’m wondering what he will say when March rolls around .

So far I find the French people to be friendly , the ones I encounter while walking Ada’s sister’s dog around rue by rue by boulevard by rue by avenue . Except for the guy who flattened the tires of three cars parked outside our window within the enclosed courtyard a couple of nights ago . Ada watched him do it , stabbing the tires . He won’t make my friendly list . And I’d leave the bankers off , too , French or American . One bank woman was very friendly , though , as she explained at length that she couldn’t and wouldn’t be able to help us with our ATM card issue . I kind of think she enjoyed that little conversation . Maybe it made her day ; she could tell her husband all about those pitiable Americans when she got home that evening and the two of them could have a little laugh .

I’ll tell you right now that I’m not nearly sophisticated enough to live in Paris . I feel funny wearing that big scarf around my neck , for one thing . And also I couldn’t sit , especially in the cold , at a tiny little round table outside a cafe sipping espresso with the tiny little cup and saucer keeping me company like we’re all playing doll house with tiny furniture and utensils and trying to look adult and cultured and sophisticated to the passers-by. That seems to be the French way but it’s not my way .That’s another reason I could never live here . I’m just an unsophisticated styleless lout with nothing to prove to anyone .

Maybe I’m being unfair . C’est la vie . I think that means : ” So , sue me !” in American .


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more paris stuff/ museums

Big cities are not my thing .

A friend of mine sent me an e-mail yesterday saying which museums he likes best in Paris . He had a couple of tips , too , about which ones might be free and where to get a good coffee . Or something . I have to admit I didn’t pay much attention since we are not here to visit museums . To be honest I’m not much of a museum buff anyhow . I take ’em or leave ’em . And I’m not one to go anywhere mainly to say I was there , especially museums.

Hey , I went to the Lourve .

Did you see the Mona Lisa ?

Of course . It’s smaller than I thought .

I went to a great museum in Denmark once , the Louisiana , in a little town where my friend Ivan grew up , Homleboek . A museum setting with nice architecture , lots of glass so lots of light and lots of water outside . I remember seeing an Edward Hopper painting of people in a cafe titled Nighthawks . I remember being impressed by it . My Danish companion told me that Hopper is an American painter . I said that I’d never heard of him . The Dane gave me a look that might well have said : Americans are such uncultured dopes !

Now I have an appreciation for and very much like Hopper paintings. I’ve seen some at the Huntington Museum in Pasadena .

Now that I’m thinking of it , I like the Huntington Museum , too . There are a few different galleries , one being old man Huntington’s former house . Huntington owned and ran the extensive electric rail system in Los Angeles . Oil companies , car companies , cement companies , and others sabotaged and killed the electric rail system and replaced it with a freeway system that tore apart mainly poor and minority neighborhoods to build freeways , and then more freeways , and then wider freeways , and then ……………

An interesting thing to me is that a few years ago they tore up the old unused Huntington tracks that still stretched through my town , Arcadia , and laid down new tracks for the current Metro Rail system , putting the new ones exactly where the old ones had been , only now they had to pay a small fortune to buy up new rights-of-way because the rights -of -way that existed in the early 1900s and in some places until the 1960s had been sold, built over , and obliterated . Now we have our new electric rail system , at best a mere skeleton and faint apparition of the old extensive system .

Oh well , the beat goes on !

Which brings me back to that old Parisian , Baron Haussmann ( see my last blog post ) . After all of his efforts to modernize Paris he in the end got booted out by Napoleon III because the renovations were costing way too much money for lots of people to stomach . No good deeds go unpunished , I suppose .

So , nevertheless , some museums I like , but I remember a few Parisian museums visited in past years. I remember problems with the coat -check person in one , and hoards of visiting tourists in some , and a typical- for- me lack of the needed enthusiasm shown by me to satisfy Ada that I am not being a dead weight wet blanket downer no-fun-at-all buzz-kill . I think I even did see the Mona Lisa once , too , behind and through the crowd of tourist heads , all demonstrably more enthusiastic than me , I think , jamming in to block a closer view for others until I think a French museum agent provocateur shooed us all along so that another herd could munch the sweet grass for a short while .

I’ll get into a couple of these French museums this time , however , sooner or later . When in Paris ………… I’ll let you know how it goes . If it were just me , I think I’d let that particular experience go by the wayside , but I know Ada , and she won’t allow me to shirk my tourist duties . I’ve already seen the Louvre from the outside . I saw the glass pyramid . That should be good enough , don’t you think !

Did you go to the Louvre ?

Of course !

I remember meeting an Irishman , once , who told me that he’s almost been to America . I asked him about the “almost”.

” I went out to Galway and looked out over across the sea , ” he said , “and I knew America was out there someplace ” . Likewise , I reckon , I almost visited the Louvre . I looked at it and I knew the Mona Lisa must be in there somewhere , and all that other fine art should be in there too , behind the tourists . That should be enough high culture exposure for me for awhile I think . ( Don’t tell Ada .)


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walking paris in winter

A person could get lost around this place . No one told them about the grid pattern of streets ? Good old What’s His Name laid out the street pattern so that when the unfamiliar-to-the-city folks walk around they’s got to memorize the rues travelled and the boulevards passed . It doesn’t help that one rue seems to blend into another . The names change every now and again too for what to me appears to be the same street .

I wondered if what I should be doing is trying to recognize the landmarks and the location of this platz and that platz. Wasn’t really working for me either , though . After a week or so I’m beginning to get some idea of directions in Paris . I followed some complicated written directions to get to a certain bank , made one or two temporary missteps along the way , and realized after I successfully got there that I could have reached the bank much more easily on a simpler route even with the tiny bits of familiarity with the city that I already have .

I should be a little familiar with the general street layout of Paris , though , because the guy who laid out the Paris streets laid out the city plan for the Szczecin streets in Poland , Ada’s home city . That’s what the Poles say , anyway. Well , it was the city of Stettin in Germany at the time . You know , the Stettin mentioned in a famous Churchill speech about the Communist iron curtain . Stettin was the city on one end of that iron curtain . At any rate , I’m pretty sure that it was a man named Haussmann who laid out the streets in both cities between 1853 and 1870. Well , Paris for sure .

I passed a large Parisian boulevard named Haussmann yesterday . Wondered who he might have been . Turns out he worked for Napoleon III to straighten out and re-design the city of Paris . I guess the city layout was quite a mess before that . People would leave their homes to take a walk , I conjecture , and never find their way back . Maybe if Haussmann were still around he could solve the problem of dog poop all over Parisian sidewalks . I think that’s a big problem ; but maybe that’s just me .

Ada and I took her sister’s dog ( carried poop bags with us and used them ) out for an exploratory walk today . I dropped mental bread crumbs along our path as we went so that we could find our way home again . I had , by now , a general notion of direction , of where Montmarte was , and the golden Opera . We walked along unfamiliar rues to come up on the other side of Sacre Coeur. We were going along splendidly but then a light rain began . The morning prediction had been 1% chance , and here was the 1% , so we decided to abandon our trek and head for home . Maybe tomorrow we’ll hit the dog park at Sacre Coeur . Odd place to have a dog park , I thought , but dogs gotta go somewhere . Ada says she thinks it’s only open after 6 pm . Ada’s usually right , but that sounds like a weird schedule to me.

The place is full of bars and restaurants and bakeries . I’m headed over to the nearest bakery for a couple of croissants and a baguette .


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Ada and I are in Paris , France .

You need a negative Covid test in order to fly these days , of course ; but we both had POSITIVE tests just after Christmas . The CDC says that we will continue to test positive for the next three months . Ah ! Therein lies the problem .

We had doctors’ notes to provide to the airline to state that we were safe to travel without a negative test . We were over and done with being contagious , having finished our 10 day isolation period .

The young guy at the Air France counter wasn’t too sure . He wanted proof of our negative tests . We offered him our POSITIVE test results and our doctors’ notes . He was desperately trying to read a copy of his airline policy but was having some problem understanding it , so he went somewhere in the back to take a few deep breaths or to consult with someone or to smoke a cigarette or something . A colleague of his told us not to worry after he had left . ” He’s new ,” she said , ” and he’ll have to learn . You won’t have any problem.”

She was right . He eventually returned to the counter and issued us boarding passes . We were relieved . For several days we weren’t at all sure that it would work for us . Or someone on the flight crew might come down with Covid and the entire crew would have to be quarantined and there would be no one to fly the aircraft to Paris . Or something. A day or two before we left I gave us about a 50/50 chance of taking the flight . I suspect that Ada set the odds a little lower .

It was a good flight . They served us a nice dinner with wine . We turned down the offer of Champagne — a French airline , after all —- but the steward in the end had opened a few bottles and rushed up and down the aisles filling and re-filling plastic glasses with the stuff . He did offer me a cognac , though , which I happily accepted . The bottle was a little bit miniscule , just enough for a small dose , but that was okay ; I’m not a big cognac guy .

Ada’s sister was waiting for us at Charley DeGaulle airport . We took a taxi to her place in the 18th whatever they call it —– aggrondizement ? Arrondissement ? It’s all French to me .

Yesterday we took a long walk around . We tried to get money from four different ATMs at three different banks with no luck . I called our credit card company when we got back to the apartment and they said that there was no problem on their end , that it must have been the ATM machine . Tomorrow is another day .

We took Ada’s sister’s dog to the dog park at the base of Sacre Coeur . What a place for a dog park , I thought , adjacent to the throngs of tourists and hanger-arounders and in among the semi-derelict men peeing quasi-discretely in the bushes instead of paying one and a half euros to use the public toilette .

I discovered that my I-phone is blocked so that I can’t simply substitute another sim card into it to use while I’m in France . With Ada’s phone there was no problem . We’ll try again another day with mine , but I think that I’ll have to buy a cheap burner phone to use if we find one cheap enough . I don’t really need a phone here , but it might come in handy . If I get lost and am never heard from again , it will probably be because I didn’t have a phone to call Ada or her sister for a little help finding my way home . Je ne parle pas French .

We got our Covid “passports” yesterday so that we can enter shops , restaurants , museums , etc. Got them at a pharmacy . Ada got her booster shot there , too . The pharmacist was very friendly . Good start , I think . We’ll see how it goes .


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union rep

Another old one,


Hull came down the hall and asked me in hushed tones ,” How do you join the union ? ” In those days a teacher had to join the union to be an official memberand not many wanted to join and pay union dues . The union represented teachers in collective bargaining if they were member or not . I happened to be union representative for one year .

I told him how to join the union . Then I asked him what happened.

” I’ve got a conference with the principal after school today . I grabbed a kid .”

I took Hull aside and told him that I would go with him to the conference if he wanted . Yeah , he did . He told me that ” This asshole kid kept pounding onthe door , several times throughout the period , so finally I opened the…

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whatever works


I found myself summoned to the assistant principal’s office after school .

” Do you have a student named So-and-So in your period 4 class ? ”

” Yeah,” I said .

” What kind of a student is she ? ”

” She’s a good student . Never causes any trouble . Good grades . ”

” What kind of clothes does she wear ? “

What kind of clothes does she wear ?  This was trouble . At Virgil when they ask ,” Do you have a student  So-and-So …….. ? ” , that’s enough . You knew you were already walking the plank and the administrator on the other side of the desk was there merely to nudge you a little further along and into the water .

” What do you mean ‘What kind of clothes does she wear ?’ ,” I said .

” Does…

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