Look at the color of these geraniums, how it explodes against the cold stone and white shutters. This is the house where the little old man who makes the wooden animals lives.
And here's little Neko, coming around the corner in search of her big friend Sammy: I missed Neko the whole time I was in France. I found myself taking photos of dogs, and making conversation with their owners. I talked briefly with a Belgian couple who had brought their miniature chihuahua with them to Paris because they could not bear to be away from it. So here's this tiny dog -- I know chihuahuas are all tiny, and I bet the word means teeny tiny in Chinese -- with a rather portly Belgian couple (they were Flamand and not Wallon, so more Flemish than French), against the backdrop of Les Invalides, which is such a WIDE monument. Just one of many encounters with dogs and their owners. All suckers, sucked in by the easy adoration.
Then there's little Munchkin, the brown blob blending in with her favorite decorative item. She loves to sit on this rug. I missed Munchkin, too, and spent an inordinate amount of time worrying about her, even though I knew she was in capable and loving hands. I was worried she would not get past the twelve-week mark, but she did. She still lurches around, but she has more weight to hurl in the general direction of where she wants to be. She trained herself to use the catbox while I was away. You have to see how she gets around to appreciate what a feat this is!
And then there's the big guy, pictured here with my niece Mary Clare. I missed him most of all.
But someone had to take care of the animals, and was waiting for the much-anticipated birth of his first grandchild. So now we can call him the Big Old Guy. It was so strange to be in Paris, which feels like home to me, and not have my family close at hand. I was riding in a taxi on the last night, after visiting friends who had just had a baby (Hanna Marie, possibly a future love interest for Elijah Francis?), and it seemed so odd that the taxi wasn't taking me home--to Walt, Neko, Munchkin and BB. The feeling may have been exacerbated by the fact that I stayed with a friend who lives a couple of blocks from my last apartment in Paris, which I lived in for seven years. I really felt like I was at home. We went to my old gym, shopped in my old grocery stores, went to my old movie theaters, even went to see my old hairdresser. When we went to the gym for the first time, the receptionist greeted me with "Hey! I know you." This may not seem odd, but I have not been to my old club since May 2005. She even let me have the first visit as a temporary guest for free. We took a class that mixed pilates, yoga and stretching with Annie, who was an instructor there when I was a member. She remembered me, too. How odd and comforting.