Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Paris and Life

Lots of memories of my Paris trips this week. I named my oldest daughter after my favorite city.
She is strong, elegant, enduring, beautiful with a classic elegance and a palate for all new foods and adventures. In the past I have sent her to Paris, with her French class in High School. And she on her own has studied abroad in London, visiting Scotland, Ireland and who knows where else in the 4 months she was there. Paris Gray, that's my girl. Life is not made of things. Life is made of experiences.

Paris (the city) has always been an escape for me. Once, a daring freedom, insisted upon, bought for a big price, and sacrifice (defiance even!). A treasured adventure with 5 of the most amazing women I've ever encountered. Chickie, Janey, Sandy, Corrine andCatherine (Dr. Mac!). Those wonderful days, trading roommates each day, dinners of steak pommes frites, a sip of Calvados, a tiny paper umbrella tucked behind an ear after a saucy night out, always diligent journal entries each night. 

We rented a car and drove around France, clockwise of course, Paris being 12 and Lyon 1:30, Roussilon being 6, Limoges being as close to 9 as we could afford this trip (parking was quel horreur and it was pouring rain),  Ending at Mont St. Michelle and Versailles before Charles De Gaulle heading to San Francisco International. We had our ups and downs, (who could think 6 independent, determined, strong minded women would travel two weeks in a foreign country without a difference of opinion now and then?) oh my, did it end up being the trip of a lifetime.....

My dearest friend Karen and her new husband Jon are on their honeymoon (18 months delayed) in Paris as we speak and they are posting diligently their daily adventures. I am so thrilled to say to myself as I read those posts, "Lara! (my other me says to myself in my head) We've been there! We know exactly what they are talking about! We have SAT UPON COLETTE'S grave at Pere Lachaise, JUST LIKE KAREN is now!" I am revisiting an old friend (Paris) with an old friend (Karen, since we were 11), right now as we struggle with this life and these challenges...I suddenly am 32 (and 38) visiting Paris again. I am there. It's almost enough that I have been and that I know and can live it again now.


Again when I was 38, I returned to Paris for my birthday. Paris in May is lovely! However, my birthday (May 1) was Fête du Travail (everything is closed) and I could not go to the top of the Eiffel Tower and throw my wedding ring over the edge as I had longed to do (2006- 18 years= divorce for me). *trying to find image on Google of this sign is actually futile!* The only sign I could come up with is this:

I assure you , I had no desire to climb the Eiffel Tower.  Well, I did climb it, there are some stairs to the top. But please believe me when I tell you that there is a sign that says something close to "you will go to jail if you throw things off the Eiffel Tower". As a law abiding citizen, I of course could not  continue my plan. Tant pis. But I only had 4 days in Paris and I was not keen on spending ANY of them in the hoosgow- French or otherwise....

Sadly and undramatically, I left my wedding ring in my little red coin purse with my Euros. But every now and then I do think "what if I had thrown it?" (A poor starving artist may have found it and hocked it and was able to buy a few more pages of Arches Watercolor paper that would have allowed him/her to paint the picture that he/she sold to the honeymooning tourists -not unlike Karen and Jon-, that paid his/her rent and allowed him/her a few more months in Paris"). 

This trip I rode the train through the "Chunnel" from England to Paris. A first class ticket to Paris, with lunch and wine. I was so happy, so excited and feeling so very spoiled, a birthday gift from a very special person who had lived in France and been to Paris and had places to introduce me to, but who also paid attention and made reservations to stay at my favorite little hotel in the 5th arrondissement, the Hotel Europe St. Severin. Oh not fancy or 5 star, but in my neighborhood. ( My mother always told me- the least expensive place in the best neighborhood!). Yes, the 5th arrondissement is the best neighborhood. St. Michelle Metro station....the life on the street is my favorite.

The perfect birthday gift.
The sad thing is how different technology is now. Well, it's not sad that it is the way it is now, but then. My first trip to Paris (not France, my first trip to France was to the Cote d'Azur in 1988) was with a little camera who's greatest claim to fame was that it could print panoramic photos. They are beautiful photos, I still have them. They must be scanned and uploaded and inserted and added to the cloud etc.
This second trip to Paris (38), was with the photographer. He is so talented. Unfortunately all photos of that 4 day trip had crashed shortly thereafter with his hard drive (it was 2006). And all we have are memories.

Which brings me to my conclusion. It's not the things you have. It's the memories you make. Those are the real treasures.

So. A post with no pictures. A first? For me? yes. Use your imagination. If you cannot. Go to Paris. Wander Pere Lachaise. Have an espresso at a little cafe. Some raclette at the place across from the Hotel St. Severin. Ride the Bateaubus down the Seine to the Eiffel Tower. Climb the stairs. View the view.   Buy a book at Shakespeare and Co., A Pernod at Cafe Flore. Aside from the births of my three children, these are some of my fondest memories.

It would be so sad if you couldn't see what I have seen. 
It is truly a beautiful life. I'm ready for more.


Saturday, April 26, 2014

The one with the Equipment silk snakeskin blouse. From France.

Someone invented Pinterest.  For a visual girl like myself, this is a way to catalogue who I am and what I love. When I was young I spent  my hard earned babysitting money on fashion magazine subscriptions- I was the only girl I know who had a subscription to WWD. I would cut out my favorite images and tape them to my bedroom wall. My friends had Adam and the Ants, The English Beat and Billy Idol posters, I had the seasons runway shows cut from WWD and Vogue and Vogue Paris. Taped to my wall. Floor to ceiling. With scotch tape.

I'm still the same. But I can't find the tape half the time and thank God for Pinterest. It feeds my soul.

Looking through my "My Style" page on Pinterest and I found the below picture from years ago. Something about this outfit just says Lara, even though I've never owned white trousers or a snakeskin blouse!

I found this amazing silk blouse. Made by Equipment. In Paris. Just this weekend at my designer consignment store in town. It's the only thing I bought. I loved it at first sight, though it is a little daring for me. It's luscious. Beautiful. And it fits me. I'm calling it the find of April 2014. I think I'll wear it to work tomorrow....

I'm sorry I've been absent lately. Work really takes a lot of time! But 45 days until Hawaii and summer is really just right around the corner. We have such a fun year planned, the girls and I. Life is good and we're enjoying all of the minutes.

Hello to you, thanks for reading. 
love, me

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

One of my favorites

Nude Descending a Staircase

Toe after toe, a snowing flesh,
a gold of lemon, root and rind,
she sifts in sunlight down the stairs
with nothing on. Nor on her mind.

We spy beneath the banister
a constant thresh of thigh on thigh;
her lips imprint the swinging air
that parts to let her parts go by.
One-woman waterfall, she wears
her slow descent like a long cape
and pausing on the final stair,
collects her motions into shape.

I have been very busy at work. Neglectful of my little blog, but am determined to keep it up when I can so my kids can see what I like when I'm not around someday. 
xoxox love,

Monday, September 23, 2013

Flashback UK

With Paris away in London doing her study abroad thing, I thought I'd put a few of my old UK pictures up from Dec 2005- June 2006. Armchair traveling. Happy memories.

Rag Freak, Brighton, UK 2005
Rag Freak, Brighton, UK Dec 2005
London, Spring 2006
Mermaids for Mom
Fountain at Buckingham Palace,  May 2006
Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace, May 2006
Library, British Musuem 5/06
Library, British Museum May 2006
Stonehenge 12/2005
December 2005
Lara Roman Bath UK
Bath, UK  Spring 2006
The Beach Girl West Wittering, Sussex, UK 3/06
West Wittering, Sussex, UK March 2006
Jane Austen's Garden Gate
The arbor in the garden at Jane Austen's house in Chawton, Hampshire, UK  Spring 2006
Playing in Winchester Cathedral
Winchester Cathedral December 2005
Big Ben, of course
London, May 2006
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, April 2006
Wicker Man, Butser Ancient Farm
Wicker Man, Butser Ancient Farm, Spring 2006
Wicker Man burning
Wicker Man Burning, Butser Ancient Farm, Spring 2006
Green Men at the Beltain Festival..
Green Men at the Beltane Festival, Butser Ancient Farm, Spring 2006

Sunset on the Pier at Brighton, December 2005
Me at Sunset on Brighton Beach, UK Dec 2005
Heading to the Isle of Wight (hovercraft!)
2006 Going to the Isle of Wight
via hovercraft!
St. Catherine's Hill, Hampshire, UK 2005

Sometimes the best time to be lost is when you are adventuring.


All photo credits: James T. Shaffer ©2005-2013

Monday, September 2, 2013

Dog Days of Summer 2013

This is Duke. He's four months old.


Love my pink hammock, Duke the Bernese Mountain dog puppy, my darling house, my white picket fence, my gardens, my green chair, summer, sunshine, daughters, son. 

Hey. I didn't do so bad for myself.


(here's Duke with Odin about 6 weeks ago)
Odin and the new baby boy (just called Blue so far)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A little bit of beach trip in July...

The kids have all the pictures. Best cameras. Patience. In desperation (for a few measly photos!) I have swiped some from HERE and THERE. Daughter #1 has a new blog (as opposed to the old blog), so yeah, you'll have to follow the new one to read about her new adventures this year (not limited to London for three months starting in September! University of London!).

Me and Ellie. My sister's granddaughter and my mother's first GREAT GRANDCHILD! 
My gorgeous Mother. (a grandmother and a GREAT GRANDMOTHER!)

Mermaid cousins, my daughter Scarlett Darling and her partner in crime, Erin Estella...

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Mrs. Calabash, at it again....

He's the 93 year old founder of my company. When he's feeling chipper, he comes by my desk on his way out of the office and tips his imaginary hat and says "Goodnight Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are!". I love it.  He is an amazing man and he always makes me feel special. It's incredible to work for him, he's built an amazing empire in Northern California and his son and grandson are carrying on the tradition with his business.

I've told you this before- you can read it HERE.

About two weeks ago, Masud came by my desk and instead of saying "Goodnight Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are" he said quietly to me, "If you find me a Jimmy Durante hat, I'll wear it."

I asked him his hat size.
7 1/8

He spoke so softly, I really wondered to myself if he'd said it. But yes. By Gosh I was going to find him a Jimmy Durante hat. I googled Jimmy Durante hats and watched old clips of the Jimmy Durante Show (which only ran on t.v. from 1954-1956).

Then I found the best Hatter I could find,  Lock & Co., LTD in London- St. James's Street, and tried to figure out which hat would have been a Jimmy Durante hat.

I found it. 
The Chelsea. 
In Gray. 

So I ordered it and had it sent to my office......

It felt like Christmas when it arrived. The box was huge and wonderful.






So I wrote a little note, tucked it into the tissue paper and set the box on his chair in his office so he'd see it first thing when he came in Tuesday afternoon....


And he LIKED IT!

This is what I found in my mailbox at home today:

Mrs. Calabash, love masud.

I think we made each others day.

P.S. I love my job.