Balls

I have a few comparisons between Paris and some of our other “dwellings”…

Birds. Canterbury had seagulls. Earlier this evening as Blair and I were walking back from our nightly gelato, I heard seagulls which I will forevermore connect with our time in Canterbury.

Art.

Paris has pigeons. Lots of pigeons. Glen calls them rats with wings. They haven’t been bothersome, but they sure aren’t afraid of humans. They don’t mind your feet kicking in their direction, they just hop away and return as soon as you turn away – especially if you have left some good morsels at your feet.

Today we were in the Tuileries Garden and this little German girl was feeding the pigeons. Always a bad idea…Are you seeing the pigeons scene from Mary Poppins right now? Are you singing Feed the birds, tuppence a bag…But as this young girl was feeding the pigeons, this happened..

One of these things is not like the others…

Bugs. They are here; Blair is the evidence as she has the bug bites for proof. Glen and I don’t have any bites so they must prefer young blood.

What Paris really has is bees. And since we found our outdoor café “tartine” breakfast (a baguette with jam and butter), the bees have found us.

They dive bomb us for our jam and just sit in the jam cup or on our already jammed bread. Pay attention as you eat or you might get a mouthful of bee! Oh and they also dive INTO the tiny spout of the sugar container. They dive down to the bottom and eventually return…they must be drunk on sugar by then!

Trash – or in Paris – lack thereof…We are SO pleasantly surprised to find that Paris is incredibly clean!!!! You might remember that our last “dwelling” was definitely NOT clean, NOLA’s French Quarter was continually being cleaned and Brooklyn was surprisingly clean except for the twice weekly trash dumping on the sidewalks for pick up.

Paris makes great effort to keep its streets clean. There are two or three trash cans on every block. There are these cute little trucks that circle the city replacing the full bags from the street cans. There are regular pick ups from the buildings. There are walking street sweepers. There are walking trash picker-uppers. The parks are clean, the gutters are clean, the entire city just feels clean and not smelly! Is this cleanliness effort in preparation for the 2024 Olympics? There are already signs and billboards, etc. around the city advertising the events.

Do you remember how in Brooklyn I was constantly on the lookout for discarded chicken bones? They were a real issue for me because Dug could smell them a mile away and would pull me toward them. I saw this and was reminded of Brooklyn. And Dug.

Critters. Haven’t seen a rat or a cockroach. Just pigeons. Maybe it’s because the city is kept so clean? I was reading something earlier and it said that in the 1800s there was quite the rat problem so they brought in cats. Well, that solved one problem -rats – but created another problem – cats. So then cat became a delicacy in Paris. Ouch. I did not need to know that, but once you know it, it’s hard to unknow. So now you know it, too. You’re welcome. I just did some more reading and Paris still uses cats to reduce the rats in the city. But I have not seen it on a menu…unless they call it something other than chat.

Transportation. So many forms of wheeled methods of getting around – bikes, (two and three-wheeled), scooters, motorcycles (two wheels, three wheels and even four tiny wheels!), mopeds, tiny cars, skateboards, roller blades, taxis, buses, and yes, cars.

There seems to be lots of ways to “borrow” two wheeled vehicles of all sorts…locate it, check it out with your phone, ride it to your destination and then drop it off on a corner. Voilà!

And it all seems to work. Really well. There are bike lanes all over though they seem to be largely ignored. Taxis drive in the bus lane. The roundabouts seem to function effortlessly. Lanes seem to be a fluid concept. And yet, I never felt the craziness of cities like Hanoi or New York or London. All forms of transportation just seem to move as one. And everyone just “gets along” on the roadways. It’s really kind of amazing.

But really, Paris is a pedestrian town. People walk everywhere. It’s just the lifestyle and as I’m rereading French Women Don’t Get Fat, I’m reminded of the effect of a walking lifestyle and enjoying life without excess. It’s the small things that make our days so valuable. The pastis at lunchtime, the shared pastry, the Nutella crepe, and the company that goes with it.

Police. Brooklyn – My enduring memory is of the police in the Metro stations who were not wearing masks when they were required by the city. There were announcements every few minutes reminding us all to wear our mask. And yet…the rules were blatantly ignored by the very people who were supposed to be enforcing the laws/rules. At our “home” station I went up to a pair of officers and asked them why they weren’t wearing a mask. They literally just turned and walked away from me. So…not a good memory. I will add that when I walked the Brooklyn Bridge after RBG died, the police officers were very respectful of that movement. In Canterbury, the police wear “funny” uniforms. Well, funny to me. I never did get a picture. I didn’t see a lot of police around there and when I did, they were milling about chatting with each other. In NOLA there was a large police presence in the French Quarter, but outside that..I’m not sure I ever saw one in all of my long walks.

Here in Paris – lots of police. The first thing I noticed was the sound of the sirens. It’s just so European. Just think about a Jason Bourne or a James Bond movie. Yep. That’s the sound. Then we’ve seen police vans full of officers (I assume that’s who’s in there) dashing by and little mini police cars maneuvering in and out of traffic.

Blair also got her first glimpse of gendarmes in full “battle” gear with assault rifles strapped across their bodies. I don’t care who’s carrying one of those things, I don’t want to be anywhere near it.

We’ve also seen police officers on horses. Seems out of place and a bit cruel to have the horses on the cobblestone streets. I’ve had no engagement with any officers here, but there is a large presence.

Best for last…Dogs. First observation about dogs…boy dogs have their balls. If there are no balls, it’s a girl dog. At first we thought…”There are a lot of un-neutered male dogs here”. Then we were like…wait..are they all un-neutered? I did a little google search and it turns out that in most of Europe, it is considered cruel to neuter a dog. (Not sure if it’s only boys or boys and girls). It’s looked at in the same way as declawing a cat or cropping a dog’s ears. Well, that’s different!

I also noticed that a lot of dogs are walked off-leash even on the busy city streets. I never saw a dog stray from its walker. In fact, I have never heard a dog or tripped over a dog or..they are really well behaved. Dogs at cafés are quietly under their walker’s seat. They don’t lunge or growl or beg. Well, maybe I saw some begging at the table, but all in all they were really well-behaved.

There were big dogs and little dogs, purse dogs and the biggest, fattest basset I’ve ever seen. It was being dragged out of the apartment door by its walker. Hilarious scene! The walker didn’t look too thrilled about the walk either.

Parisian dogs seem to be a special breed. Which brings me to Dug. He’s a special breed, too. And I miss him. He’d be a good Parisian dog. Maybe he needs a beret. Would the other boy dogs make fun of him for not having any balls though? I hope he doesn’t think I’m cruel because he was neutered when he was a pup. I miss Dug.

Blair days this is the look he gives her as she’s getting ready to leave for work.

And here I am sitting in our apartment on Sunday morning with the huge windows thrown wide open and a fresh breeze cooling the air. I’m enjoying my espresso and writing this post as I’m listening to the neighbor upstairs also with his windows wide open playing the piano and occasionally singing along.

Life is good. So good.

And tomorrow, I’ll give Blair a big hug as she heads home and we head to Nice. Those good byes…

Published by gat2jdt2

60 something retirees (or semi-retirees) learning to live differently

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