Paris at Christmas

Photos Phor Philanthropy – Pheaturing Phrance

Why so many pictures of Paris? Because it’s my favorite city in the world. Lest you think me unoriginal, let me add that I am French. Although the French like to deny it come passport renewal time because I was born in Belgium. But that’s only because my parents happened to live there for a while and have a baby. But the Belgians, who are even weirder than the French (I know this only anecdotally from my friend, Rebecca, who lives there now, and who is thinking about becoming a Greek citizen) do not allow babies who arrive on their soil yet did not emerge from Belgian loins to be Belgian. Because Belgium.

So I’m French.

And American.

Perhaps I should go back to talking about photography.

France is quite depressing in the winter. After all, it is Northern Europe, a region that seems to be wrapped in a damp wool sweater for much of the year. Which explains the smell in the Metro. To conquer the gloominess that tends to set in, I like to get out and take pictures. Paris is the City of Light, no matter the time of year, and in most of these images, I managed to capture a bit of brightness. Not even steady drizzle and temperatures in the low 40s (Fahrenheit, of course) can dampen the city’s spirits. Well okay, maybe a little bit – a foggy camera lens and a runny nose kill the romance a bit, I have to admit.

I used to travel to Paris at least once a year, but a combination of life events has made it so I haven’t returned “home” in three years, and I really miss it.

Even though the French are really snotty and horribly annoying and they’re always on strike and you can’t good WiFi (which they pronounce “Wee Fee” like it’s some kind of kid’s toy) to save your life…I love it there and I always will.

P.S. Forgive my “ph” schtick. It got a little out of control today. But it’s all in the name of a good cause! This evening I’m presenting my work to be accepted at a local art gallery in Virginia. I’m hoping that I can take advantage of the Christmas and assorted other December holidays crowds to raise some real money for the Parkinson Foundation of the National Capital Area (PFNCA), on whose board I proudly serve. You can purchase the images above (and many others) at my Etsy shop.



IMG_2693I don’t know why my mother is so terrified of small, edible, jumping and crawling creatures. In the past year she has broken her hind paw and last week nearly chopped off the end of one of her you’re-in-trouble-now pointy fingers while she was without so much as a whimper (why humans don’t eat dried food from a bag is beyond me – it’s way safer – and you can’t cut off a paw on a Kong filled with peanut butter). But last night when one of the jumpy waving-many-legs-around things hitched a ride on her treat bag upstairs, she screamed so loudly I had to hide in the bathroom for a minute.

She kept pointing at the big treat bag (with her good finger) and shouting at me to “Go get it!” She forgets that a brown jumpy thing on a blue treat bag is invisible to someone who is COLOR BLIND – hello, mom?! Duh! It finally did a little crawl and then it jumped in the air, which is when I went into attack mode. He cleverly tried to hide under the queen-size dog bed mom shares with me, so I couldn’t reach him, even when I stuck my butt all the way in the air and sniffed at him loudly. Mom did a Superman and moved the entire bed over so I could get at him, but I was so stunned by how fast she moved and the quantity of furniture she re-arranged that I sort of lost interest in the jumpy thing and stared at her for a while. I like staring. It throws people off. I wait until it gets awkward and then I bark. Scares the crap out of people. I laugh every time.

Mom finally got a long-handled brush out of the shower, which really scared me because I have some kind of weird PTSD about stuff. All kinds of stuff. Stuff that makes noise. Flags. Hats. Umbrellas. Everything really. So I just froze and watched her beat that little thing into a gooey pile of still-waving arms, which she flushed down the toilet. Three times. While screaming.


Morning Dog


I’m just not a morning dog. Never have been. I mean, why on earth would I want to leave a warm bed? Particularly when it’s mom’s bed. She has piles of pillows and blankets that she likes to play “Fort and Moat” with. Don’t know that game? It’s where she builds up her pillow and blanket Fort and then yells “Move” at me until I leave space for her on the bed. Then, while she’s sleeping, I cross the “Moat” by crawling slowly toward her until I’m lying at least partially if not completely on top of her. I win every time!

When we stay at my boyfriend’s house, he and I play the same game, but now there are two people to knock off the bed. Thor is large enough that he doesn’t have to use much strategy to win. He just gets on the bed and stands over mom or my stepdad breathing heavily. Then he takes his giant lion paw and pets them. Or else he puts his head on someone’s chest. He could kill a decent-size bird with the weight of that head.

IMG_2081I tried sleeping with Hug one night, but he has a twin bed. I’m guessing that all twins have to sleep in a twin, but it’s a bit disappointing as far as beds go. It’s really no bigger than a dog bed, but long. Like a matchstick with sheets and a comforter. There just wasn’t any place for me to really stretch out.

I’m excited that winter is on the way. It’s electric blanket season! Nothing warmer than curling up on a hot blanket for a game of Bundt Cake! I sleep as close as I can to mom so the combined heat of my body and the electric blanket makes her feel like she’s baking in an oven. It’s all kinds of fun!


The Perfect White T-shirt

In a totally unscientific experiment, I decided to try to find the perfect white T-shirt. Why? Because I’m in my 40s now. Which means that all those jolie laide thrift-shop cute outfits I covet in Anthropologie make me look like I shopped a Salvation Army sale rack. So I’ve decided the chic option is to wear jeans, a scarf, and a fitted white, 100% cotton, short-sleeve T-shirt.

For years, I wore Banana Republic’s “Organic Cotton” T-shirt. I had one in pretty much every color. But they don’t seem to make them anymore. I put a call out to my Facebook community and received some great suggestions for alternatives.

Then I went online and ordered about 50 white T-shirts. Here are the results of my incredibly fascinating sartorial study. I included photos of my favorites in a gallery below.

The ones I ruled out:

1. Old Navy –  Not 100% cotton.

2. Chico’s – Couldn’t find a short-sleeve white T-shirt this late in the season.

3. Ann Taylor Loft – Wrinkle city! Every single shirt I own from Ann Taylor Loft looks like I wore it for a week, washed it, drove over it with my car and then wore it again for another week. Regular Ann Taylor? Mostly Modal with a tiny bit of cotton thrown in. Boo.

4. J. Crew – I know they’re supposed to have great T-shirts, but the quality didn’t win me over. The “Tissue Weight” cotton T-shirt is just an excuse to charge a ridiculous amount for what amounts to, literally, a tissue. The “Painter’s T” is as wrinkly as Ann Taylor Loft’s, and for more money. And their “Perfect Tee” (short-sleeve) was not available in stores – the long-sleeve version I did try on was bunchy, made of a bulky, thick weave of which I’m not fond.


Ralph Lauren (Outlet)

On sale – $8.00. Good deal for a nice-fitting T-shirt. I bought a Small. I would have prefered the Medium, but the fit is a bit awkward and sizing up only made it bulky. The shape is fairly good, though the weave is a bit thick. Wore well through the day. Gets a B.


Custom-made, direct to you, free shipping, and 100% cotton…for only $15! I ordered a Small and a Medium. The quality is good – easy, drapey. A weekend T-shirt for sure, but slightly too sheer for me to vote it the best. I give it a B+. (Disclosure: If you purchase through the link I’ve included, I get a discount for the referral, so if you prefer to register directly, just go to the site.)

The Gap

I tried on the Perfect Tee and…meh. I actually ended up buying a V-neck in a Medium (photo not included), but The Gap’s shirts suffer from two design flaws – the material is fairly thin and the look is a bit boxy. The crew-neck shirt just made me look like I’d borrowed my boyfriend’s undershirt. C+.

Banana Republic

Like Shania Twain says, the Banana Republic Timeless Crew-neck Tee is “still the one.” The reason I’m a sucker for BR? The weave – it’s soft AND thick. The fit is impeccable and the quality is fantastic. I ended up with a Small in the crew-neck and a Medium in the  V-neck. Both look brand new and freshly ironed, even after a wash. A+!!



Back-up Plan

WARNING: Due to the graphic nature of this blog post, those who are offended by fart jokes and the following words – toilet, sewage, poo, or crap – should not continue reading. For the rest of you, enjoy the post!

I woke up this morning to a back-up in my main sewage line. Do you know what that is? Let me describe it in simple terms. Go into your bathroom. Flush your toilet. Now take a dump in your tub. And then do it again in your guest bathroom. Nice, right?

After pouring Clorox into both tubs, more to stem my panic than anything else, I called my plumber. The last time my plumber was at the house was two years and a half years ago. He spent five hours with his whole body crammed under my bathroom sink, arm-deep in a P-trap. Up to his elbow, much, I imagine, like a veterinarian trying to help a cow through a difficult birth.

Except I bet the veterinarian isn’t paid as much as my plumber.


So now he’s back, with a drain snake the size and length of a King Cobra, and wearing his blue booties. I love the blue booties. They are a very considerate gesture made by the plumbing company, to keep the plumber’s shoes from mucking up my floors. Which is kind of sweet, given that both of my second floor bathrooms are quite literally coated in shit. At this point, the muddy shoes are the Diet Pepsi part of the triple-cheeseburger, giant fries, and four dessert tacos lunch order.

You didn’t know there was a dessert taco, did you?

Well there isn’t. At least not that I know of. And if you eat four of them, you better not come here afterwards. Because I evidently haven’t the facilities to accommodate you. Ahem.

Until the drains are cleared, I’m relegated to the couch with Blanche. She is gripping her pillow with that terrified look all excellent guard dogs get. The one that says, “I HOPE NO ONE IS BREAKING INTO THIS HOUSE BECAUSE IF THEY ARE, I HAVEN’T FIGURED OUT MY HIDING PLACE YET. WHY MOMMY? WHYYYYYYYY?” And I’m working on my laptop, attempting to ignore the drilling sounds above my head. I wouldn’t be surprised if the entire bathtub dropped through the ceiling into my living room.

At least then I would know the drains were clear.

My Pictures * My Parkinson's * My Pitbull (mix)


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