Friday, March 30, 2012


I was given a Kindle recently and decided it would solve some of the weight issues I have when traveling (OK, I know a diet would help too, but we're talking luggage here).  I read a lot and I read quickly and so it's not unusual for me to have a large part of a suitcase filled with books when I go to Paris for several months.  The Kindle would avoid that and give me space for more things I really don't need (how many pairs of jeans will I really wear?)

I was initially reluctant because I'm one of the book Luddites.  I like turning pages.  And I'm an anti-Amazon.  I buy almost exclusively from independent bookstores which I feel strongly need to be supported against the giant merchandisers.  Nonetheless, it was a gift and an opportunity and one could argue even a medical necessity since my physical therapist suggested I stop holding heavy books to read.

I downloaded about two dozen books and very carefully avoided reading any of them, saving them all for Paris.  And on the plane I managed to break the screen when my purse got scrunched by the seat.  The Kindle was unusable.  I was heartbroken and very annoyed with myself. 

After all kinds of plans involving having friends buy a new one in the States and send it to me I looked at the Amazon site when we arrived in Paris and discovered the I could buy one here for not too much more than in the US; and even better, I discovered that Amazon would replace a broken Kindle for a "service fee" of $60 plus tax, substantially less than a new one.  They would also handle the customs and import duties.  For less than $100 I could have a new Kindle to load with all those books I'd bought.

I spoke to the Amazon rep on Wednesday.  Although I was calling from Paris she called me back when the connection was unexpectedly cut off.   She placed the order and called me again on Thursday to make sure I had received the confirming email.  When I realized that although UPS had my address it didn't have the code to the front door and so couldn't get to the bell panel, I called UPS in Paris to give it to them.  No problem, they said, we'll add it to the driver's information.  Just in case, I left a post-it on the front door asking the driver to phone me when he arrived.

This morning, Friday, my phone rang; it was the driver, who had read my note but hadn't gotten the code from the dispatcher.  In this case at least, manual beat electronic communication.

And so, within two days of breaking the old one, I am sitting in front of my new Kindle, ready to start on all those books I've been holding off on.  I never thought I'd be saying this, but Amazon rocks.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sunny Time Ahead

A few days ago I checked the Paris weather forecast for our arrival date and was disappointed to learn that although the weather there has been warm and sunny, it was expected to become colder and rainy just in time for us.  Phooey!

So imagine how happy I was to check again tonight to discover the forecast above.  Sun. Sun. Sun. Sun.  And temperatures in the high 60s and even reaching 70F.  Much as I love Paris, I love it even more in the sunshine.

We leave tomorrow.  I'll be in touch.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Leaving Home

We're a week away from getting back on the plane.  How did four months manage to go by so quickly? This is the longest we've been in Berkeley since we started this bi-continental existence and I've gotten lazy.  I've actually got to remind myself how much I'm going to enjoy being back in Paris because I'm sensing that I'm tempted by the default option of just staying here.  I wonder if this means anything in the overall scheme of things. 

As usual before our semi-annual flights in either direction, I start to get a bit antsy, nervous, twitchy.  I start running over lists in my head, lists I rarely actually write down because I forget what's on them by the time I get to a piece of paper or a keyboard.  I tried to limit this before we left Paris in December by actually writing down what I left there so I wouldn't bring back stuff I didn't need.  Good plan, eh?  Where's that list though?

So last night I was up in the middle of the night, listening to the silence, which was far from silent.  The train whistle we don't often notice anymore that drifts up from the tracks along the bay, at least two or three miles away; the wind blowing hard through the trees and the blown-off leaves crackling; the heater starting up as the temperature in the house falls below the lowest point we've set for it; a motorcycle engine revving as it goes up the hill a couple of blocks away; distant sirens distinctively different than the klaxon sound of Parisian sirens. At least the rooster across the canyon was asleep.

Oh, did I forget to tell you about the rooster?  When we got back here in December I noticed a new sound, not at the proverbial crack of dawn thank goodness, but at various times during the day, whenever he felt like it apparently.  This is Berkeley; rules are for others.

One of our neighbors across the canyon probably has fresh eggs every morning.  We've got the crowing.