Monday, December 15, 2008

The House Always Wins

When someone asks where I went for the holidays and how it was seeing relatives, this year my aswer could be a little unexpected. We gambled.

After my flight from France, reading Barthes S/Z again and reflecting on how he uses the French language vs. how I do (no comparison there!?!!), realizing again that language's worth tends to have outstripped that of all other things for me, carrying more weight and meaning perhaps than it should, I landed in Salt Lake City only to board my connecting flight with cowboys heading for the last days of a 12-day, 60million-dollar-generating giant rodeo event in Vegas. As a family bonding experience, this was a new one. Gambling was a kind of uniting thing, staying here at the Mandaly Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas--a stylish hotel with lovely, lavish decorations for the Christmas season. We also danced, drank, ate and were merry (or married as was the case for Adam and Dee, pictured at the left, in Mandalay's Wedding chapel with a gorgeous reception at the Four Seasons' Mesquite Room down a series of vast corridors and walkways uniting the two hotels, & followed by a raucous dance moment at Eye Candy (as Dee demonstrates with her bridesmaids in the picture below at the left). We also celebrated birthdays, as in Steve's forthcoming 4-0, with Italian and then more Italian food, and snow that fell at a level not seen in 30 years on Steve's exact birthday.

What is that old adage, "the family who gambles together...." Kidding. But it has been a wild few days. Tonight, back again in Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino here in Las Vegas (I say "back" as I'd checked out early this morning after less than 2 hours sleep, had a quick breakfast at Excalibur casino and hotel in the Sherwood forest cafe--gotta dig the themes--with my mother who then won a little moolah on the slot machines, gave her a lift to the airport, napped, dined with Steve and family and now I was back in the casino with them all) as my cousin Steve, aunt Jan and her husband and brother, Frank and Emil, pooled funds to try for the state-wide megabucks slot machine jackpot (worth over $14 million) together.

No, we are not heading home with new cars, bundles of cash or glitzy designer whatnot purchased with our group winnings, though Adam--with his wife Dee--did hit a bit of a newlywed lucky streak making 700 at blackjack yesterday and then 300 on the slot machines at the airport en route to Mexico for their honeymoon(I guess those airport gambling machines do count for something!) But at Mandaly, we went in as a group, 20 bucks each, to watch our winnings go up until our initial 100 passed the 350 mark. We coasted there for a bit, hovering in the post-340 range, then glided back down to dip below 200, shot back up to 300 and down for awhile, playing for many hours, having a riot of a time laughing with each other, ordering (as one does here) too many of the drinks (complimentary, served by scantily-clad waitresses in cherry red mini "dresses"). We were in a bright-lights-of-the-slot-machine daze with the dinging of the bells rining in our ears, a bit of a wobble on the feet of the heavier drinkers in the familial bunch, when in the end we coasted back towards our original investment. Then we decided (as many do, though in our case this was by vote, keeping that democratic system alive) to keep trying for a return to the glory moment of a few hours back.

Blurry eyed with fatigue post 1am after last night's wedding party and the night before's pre-wedding parties, we found ourselves banking out with nada, but many hugs and calls of "safe travels" as might be heard at any other holiday moment when one's relatives take off for home, be that California, Henderson, NV, France or elsewhere. We have empty pockets (or at least pockets which are 20 bucks lighter) yet big grins on our faces. Las Vegas with its fantasyland fun for adults lived up once again to its expectations--and with an Elvis sighting to boot (with me at left!).

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Art in the World

NEW 18 Nov post up at EyePreferParis

My second installation of a series on contemporary artists is now up online at Richard Nahem's website for Paris events and happenings: under 18 nov post: ArtSeen

This time I trekked out to Bagnolet to visit visual artist Seulgi Lee who I'd met in 2003 at Napoule artist foundation at the Chateau de la Napoule in 2003, where Lee embroidered her giant "Grève" banner, and of which I still have some crazy images of her trying to hold the banner up in a nasty wind by the azure coast's waves, but those pics are somewhere in a real photo folder so the one below of an unknown woman with the banner will have to suffice here. Since then, her work has really been going in many exciting directions as she has shown more and more in Paris and in Korea. Mixing elements of the interactive with a focus on the objects in everyday art, her work is quirky and fun to see as you'll notice in the images on the EyePreferParis site. She has a forthcoming show in Noisiel at la Ferme du Buisson Centre d'Art (Jan 24-March 29, 2009).

Please, do check out my article on her, and see some images of her works (such as this image from her sculpture/performance piece "c", Musée de l'Art Moderne de Paris, where people hung out inside the piece all day long for her, or her cat dyed red like an artifical object, then left to roam the galerie like it was his own home).
Great stuff!!!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Poem written after a line by Rod Smith

housing deranged wishes
with the sound it loves
one is a sound housed a
deranged hive is that
wishful love or hanged
lust humorous timorous
household loving is a
deranged rustle a wish-
bone toothpicked axed
to housing washed sound
out with a love lined
a direct house to house
wasted lift searched for in
the wash or wishes semi-
cooked, self-lost or
free ranging household love
lorn or freebasted cockles
shiver wished for washed up
out of love mortgaged
mortal hover house-muse
must or mistletoe tongued
caught caper sound-slung
housing stand the bland
deranged for frequent
lined wish-for tales toe-holed
form of love of the rod the rood
deranged wishes scraped
housing the one it loves lived
without a sound inkling
in the prickled mouse dropped
dark dare deranging sound
wished to wash up to lap up
to splosh over into love

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

If you're free!!! UAD reading Thurs

I will be reading in Paris at the American Library with 3 others this Thursday,
in case anyone is free and wants to come along!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

YES, we DID!!!

It was rolling towards 5am, then just past, as I taxied from The Highlander pub through the rain back up to Louis Blanc. I said "There are a lot of Americans awake in this city tonight". The cabby just nodded. He told me, when I asked, that he was Congolais as he switched his radio from some long-winded tale on the new documentary (translated into a gazillion languages) of Pope Jean Paul II to the French announcement of the election results in the USA. To both our surprise, according to CNN, they said, Obama was the new President. As I gave a quick yelp of joy, he was already on his cell babbling away in some language I didn't understand then, for my benefit, threw in in his heavily accented French a Yes, they've already announced it, it's him. I felt moved, as we drove up to my door, that even he and his friends were awaiting this news. Change is coming. Change is on its way.

Of course, change is not exactly here, as Obama makes clear in his wonderful speech in Chicago which I only got to watching this morning. It is still on its way, it is still in the making, it is still to make: "We have a lot of work to do". But this election gives us--and me--renewed hope that it can be done, change can still be made. If you didn't get to hear the speech, it is on YOUTUBE--Obama speech in full version, 17mins.

But I think that all of us should also do honor to his contestant, McCain, who gave a gracious concession speech, bringing us much joy as it certainly brought him sadness. To listen to that speech on YOUTUBE--McCain's defeat, a lovely defeat to us, perhaps, but certainly a deep defeat for him, as this was his last stab at the Presidency. He did a beautiful job in this speech reminding everyone democracy is also about losing, and about how that fight was worth it. He should be thanked by all democrats, for his kind words for Obama, his competitor, but also for all he has done in his opposing views to remind us why we make the choices we do. For providing us choice. Thank you, McCain, we are sorry for your sadness. Thank you for your kind support of the man we also selected, and best to you in your continuation.

Finally, a few pics from the night here in Paris: HOW PARIS CELEBRATED THE ELECTION:
MIDNIGHT: Palais MAILLOT. The line is hundreds strong. Everyone is on the guest list. No on is getting in the door. Our attending French contingent, Poet Fred Forté, says with his eyes "You guys really want to wait in this line?" Or perhaps he is thinking, "Goodness, so many Americans all in one place in Paris, what a mess!" :)
Above: One third of the Line. One thinks perhaps they should just open the mall and let us wander aimlessly in seach of the news of what is happening overseas.
"Who's on the List???" All of us. We were about to bail entirely when I said, "Let's just go check out the door scene". It was pretty clublike, and disorganized, and so, before you know it, we are in the door and among the... whatever, as seen below.
We waited for this? Yep, overpriced drinks and no seats unless you can buy a bottle. Clublike, as I said. So we... made the tour, went up and down the stairs, stared at everyone, and LEFT. In the above picture, Michelle Noteboom can be spotted in the central blur space. Is she thinking what I am? "Let's get outta here!" Yep. So we taxied, in defeat, towards Mich and Fred's place before getting the Huxta call--"There's space here" in the Eccosais pub The Highlander. Leave it to the Scots to be welcoming to all the put-out Americans! Off we went. The pics below (as well as the first one on this post) are from a fabulous rest of the evening!:
Above: Ariel (French), Cara (Californina) and Miss Huxta (of Pennsylvania) go whole-bodied "O" for O-bama in the basement of The Highlander pub near Pont Neuf. Below: Ariel says to me "This is how it is done" and see, I manage to "O" for Obama, too. What can I say, it is late and getting later, the results at this point are only for the East coast and we are... waitin' waitin' waitin', the clock ticking towards two, then three, then four am.An American Election is nothing if not for the support of its Canadian contingent. For that we thank, pictured at right below, Carolyn Heinze--Give her an O!!! And with her, yep, more French boys keepin' us in line, and doing the ever thoughtful "Yes!" as CNN announces exciting new election results--though their "Yes!" comes just before turning to ask, "What are they saying on CNN? What are all those numbers and colors?" I never realized that we had the world beat in silly graphics during elections--but, yep, we do.
THE PINS: small, but to the point. To show our support to others, as if they didn't know we were Obama supporters. I prefer the pic with Frec and Mich. Cute, no? I'm wearing--and about to lose--Fred's pin. Sorry! Anyway, we stayed at The Highlander until late and later, and then with hope in our hearts headed home to learn the election turned out alright, finally, for once!!!!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Election Day!!! Arts & Lit mags for... Obama!

It is almost midnight as I begin this, my heart thrumming, my body anxious about what may or may not be a whole world of change starting tomorrow: Election day in the USA.

I have, of course, cast my vote by registered mail, in hopes to see my home state of Iowa painted a lovely deep blue cobalt color. But I'm still anxious and wonder, will people I know actually go and vote? Or just say "well, Obama's got it, so I don't need to"? I have indeed heard such phrases and from not just one friend. Worrisome!!! My response? CAST YOUR VOTE! This way, you can either participate in the great sense of pride you helped make this change happen, and hopefully in a landslide, or else, if all the democrats stay home, you won't have to feel guilt for being part of that loser party.

Mostly, I am selfish. So, beyond my sense that if McCain won the entire world could perhaps be looking at its demise, (and not because of little Miss Palin, either, but McCain himself and his military decision-making processes), I am thinking of the arts, and the danger the Republicans put the arts in. Palin is known for her oh-so-openminded attitude towards reading, and being a writer makes one like me worry that the country they come from could clamp up even more. Not to speak of decreasing public spending on the arts, for which the Reps are known. Of course, I feel optimistic, following the lovely POLLSTER results avidly, that Obama and Biden will take the vote, and bring into action among many things their arts policy.

But I also wanted to thank many of the artists (such as David Chloe, who did the painting on the left above), literary magazines and galleries who have been committed to engaging themselves artistically in this election, in honor of a change we do in fact believe in, and which is hopefully coming today. Just as Tristan Eaton reminds us on the Obama Art Report Blog when he quotes Kennedy saying: "For art establishes the basic human truths which must serve as the touchstones of our judgment. The artist...faithful to his personal vision of reality, becomes the last champion of the individual mind and sensibility against an intrusive society and an offensive state." Here are some art and lit sites attempting to do just that today:

OUT TODAY: To celebrate this hope for change, FENCE Magazine has put out a special issue with--who else?--Obama on the cover. The TOContents is listed online, and features some exciting authors such as Srikanth Reddy with new poems (yes, an old friend who spent time in Paris before his first book came out), fiction by Joe Ashby Porter who was recent visitor to our fair city for his reading at Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore, fiction by Rae Armantrout, and poems by Brandon Shimoda (the Cutbank Poetry editor I often mention, as he has a few recent works out such as a new book and chapbook).
LOCAL GALLERY: Owned by American Gallerist, Dorothy's Gallery has been trying to beef up interest in the Obama vote, raise money, speak to the French from her American point of view, and has arranged readings, music events and an art show in Obama's honor. Good for her, devoting her business to a cause like this! (painting at right below by Elizabeth McClancy, 2006)

ENDING TODAY: Wave Books, poetry publishers way off there on the farthest reaches of the US from here, Seattle, that far until one heads out to Hawaii, has been maintaining a very exciting political countdown to the election poetry and poem blog : Poetry Politic. As they describe it themselves on the Wave Books homepage, "A blog in fifty days, from September 15th through November 4th of 2008, presenting news from the intersection between poetry and politics. PoetryPolitic aims to offer a spectrum of critical and imaginative thinking, through which we, as citizens and as readers, might be brought into a field of greater and more urgent awareness. The poems, recordings, videos, essays and interviews represent the ways in which poetry might respond to the complexity of the moment, enacting and catalyzing the thinking and conversations necessary towards that response." Of course, my PhD being on Myung Mi Kim's work, among others, I could not be less than thrilled to see her championed as the post on Day 48, texts from Dura!!! Not to miss on this last day, THE END OF THE COUNTDOWN POST!!! They also just published the anthology "State of the Union: 50 Political Poems" Purchase proceeds go to helping homelessness and poverty among veterans. They get a gold star for reminding everyone that every little effort helps, and that poetry can make a change without having to violate its artistic credos.

Yes, there are likely thousands of other groups such as these, and thank you all! I hope these three listed here will lead others along the sinowy links to more such groups and efforts. But do get off the screen and into the world and VOTE TODAY if you are a registered USA voter!!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

New & Confused

Landing back in the literary landscape of the mind takes some time, but things have continued to filter to me, and from me to the world, even while I have been either mentally or physically away.

Some of the projects that have arrived to delight me these past weeks and 2 months in Paris are:

I) NEW LIT REVIEWS TO READ exciting recent issues of reviews with tons of work by authors I knew or have discovered in The Denver Quarterly, Cutbank Review out of Montana and, in French, fresh from Marseille, issues of the Cahiers de Refuge.

II) BOOKS by OTHERS! What pleasure to have new books arrive, such as

***I just received the beautiful translation of Marie Etienne's work by Marilyn Hacker just out in a gorgeous (I kid you not! GORGEOUS) hardback edition from Farrar Straus & Giroux: King of a Hundred Horsemen. I imagine that Marie Etienne is psyched to have her first translations in English appear in book form with a publisher of such a long, respectible history of publication! But she, and Marilyn, in turn are doing a lot for FSG with this dual-language collection: a novel in verse. These narrative poems, numbered, sectioned by sorts of topics, are conversational and yet tightly written. They reveal what Marilyn rightly calls an "interpenetration of the quotidian and the foreign" "in a mosaic of shattered mirrors". I delight particularly in the voices, constantly shifting between what feels like a locatable "I" autobiographical speaker, and "personas" addressing moments, visions, and events the author herself could not have been privy to outside what she imagines, hears of, knows, feels has happened. The imagined and the personal become one in this delightfully intimate and yet historical collection.

***The new bilingual (French & English) collection written simultaneously in both languages by young American author Alexander Dickow, Caramboles, (Argol Editions, 2008) also arrived on my doorstep this past month! Playfully unstitching elements of both languages and their syntax, this was a fun book and author to discover. It promises greater explorations while introducing me to a first collection which is formally & linguistically provocative. I look forward to hearing him read for the first time later this year!

***TRI / VIA (Erudite Fangs/PUB LUSH Press, 2003, pictured at left) by Michelle Naka Pierce and Veronica Corpuz. No, not a new publication, but new to my household! I received this gift among a series of other great books (Bhanu Kapil's Incubation: A space for Monsters from Leon Works Press and Kass Fleisher's The Adventurous from Factory School) from Laura Mullen. Could anyone hope for a better "welcome back home gift basket"? These are what I found when returning from Santiago de Compostelle, and TRI/VIA has provided me an entry back into my own writing of late--the fantastic open-endedness of the letter form, the communicative reaching out to other that it instills, especially when it is being practiced by two so skilled authors as Michelle Naka Pierce and Veronica Corpuz. But I also admire the way these poems interweave mathematical language with that of emotional longing and daily life. A fabulous exploration of form and dialogue! Don't take my word for it, go read it, or read the fab short review of it by Jeremy Biles online at EPR.

FINALLY: a little self promotion, or rather, promotion of others who have helped my own works of various sorts get into the world of late!!! Yes, my translations are starting to hit the streets, and so I am happy to announce the following publications with them:

***My translations of Albane Gellé's poems (photo of author at left from came out in the most recent issue of CONDUIT magazine, edited by William D Waltz. To order your very own copy of the Last Laugh issue, "black humor in deadpan alley" go directly to their site at I was particularly excited to read my translations smack dab next to a poet I adore, Greg Bachar, out their composing away his sharp-as-tack prose poems in Seattle, WA. Why doesn't everyone whose work I love just move to Paris?--that is what I wonder!

***Translations that Barbara Beck, Rufo Quintavalle & I completed in June of Christophe Lamiot Enos poems are online at the new Centre 104 review, now at For those of you living in Paris, yes, this is a review linked to the new arts center that advertised, well, EVERYWHERE last month for its Oct opening--so packed they physically shut down the place. It is worth visiting to see photo shows, art installations, etc. Watch their sites for events and readings as well. An explanation of their review is at: I dig the photo here at the right by Pascal Dhennequin from le 104 under construction. I hope he'll forgive my putting it up on the blog, but it is a great pic!!!!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Kate Van Houten: Text and Image

Getting back into the "grind", and with great relish--Paris is full of book and art events, so many things I can't keep up with all I want to see and be part of. But I am also trying to engage differently in the world of art and writing this fall, and so would like to share two recent publications I have been part of where I am engaging in reading and image critically, or as interviewer.

First: KATE VAN HOUTEN. An artist that has been a long-time friend of mine, and whose varied work I admire and have often drawn inspiration from for my own poetry--for example the writing of Retina which later became one of Estepa Editions--kate's artist book press--books. When asked by Richard Nahem to write once-a-month texts on an artist living and working in Paris for his wonderful blog "EyePreferParis" I leapt on the opportunity and knew immediately that I wanted to begin with my close friend. For me, this was an opportunity to talk to her in depth about her work in a way I had not done before. I asked her a lot of questions about where her varied pieces came from, how she had grown as an artist, and in the process learned also about some places I might go visit in Paris that she loves. Please do check out the final product, with my photos of Kate alongside her fellow studio mate, Daphne Gamble. The post is from Oct 14th, 2008 on the blog EyePreferParis:

Secondly: TEARS IN THE FENCE. Octavio Paz, Czeslaw Milosz, Joseph Brodsky--all Nobel prize winners, all strong influences on me as I developped into a writer, especially their essays which reflected deeply on the international writing scene, traditions, patterns, even politics and language. How now to start my own journey of writing essays on poetics and poetry, essays in which I might ask myself (and others) questions about what feels an essential debate that has followed me since I was 18: the traditions of writing (poetry in particular), and experimentations. When David Caddy, of the UK magazine Tears in the Fence asked whether I would be interested in writing a regular column for his lit mag, I saw this was absolutely the opportunity I had been awaiting. To write about poetry in an international context, in particular in a country (the UK) which feels still to me stodgier in its poetic practices, and thus which will force me to take a closer and more honest look at what is happening in the UK while also allowing me to introduce to the British community some of my views and books I read that are published in the USA.

The first in my series, which I call "Of Tradition and Experiment" came out this summer in TITF number 48: "Of Tradition and Experiment I: Collaboration". I begin by talking about Collaborations throughout the 20th century and into this one, and I conclude my brief essay with a series of 13 mini reviews of books written as collaboration, from Ted Kooser and Jim Harrison's Braided Creek to Leslie Scalapino and Lyn Hejinian's Sight. Next up? "Of Tradition and Experiement II: Characters who kill--from Robert Browning to Laura Mullen"

For "Tears in the Fence" n°48, you can order a copy of the magazine or subscribe, or even submit some poems for a future issue by writing to David Caddy, the editor, at: 38 Hod View, Stourpaine, Nr. Blandford Forum, Dorset, DT11 8TN, England. You can also ask him to send you a subscription form or info via emailing him, but no submissions by email please: "David Caddy" <>. While you are checking out the magazine, you might also enjoy David's own blog, at:

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Return + Rando à Landry

Returning from Compostelle is like an ice bath. Everything stops. Every day feels a bit stalled at first. I spend time inside during the mornings & afternoons as I did not for so long. I try and reintegrate myself into the worlds of people, work, city that I knew. I find the pile of mail to sift through and the tasks left behind before I left are in fact all still there. I sleep alone as many of us often joked about missing, and wake alone without the noise of those heading off into the dark at 5am and it seems suddenly a bit less fun, this tranquil solitariness I had missed on the way of St Jacques. Though I do sleep better! And at first a lot!

But then, as the days and weeks pass (almost a month now!) you start to relocate yourself in the place you knew, and to carry into it things from the places you were. In my case, I also wanted to keep walking a lot, and to find ways to be closer to nature still while remaining in Paris. So I joined a hiking group (Randos-Ecolos), and probably will find some others or go for some weekend hikes on my own (running around Paris is or can be hike enough, and I am sure I will post some things up from some Paris walks this fall as well). The first hike I went on was Sunday.

Journée de Patrimoine in France, and so off the group headed from Gare d'Austerlitz at 8 am to Landry. It is out in zone 6 on the RER C, in case anyone decides to go in search of some nice strolling areas. From Landry,

where we found the lovely boulangerie (pictured above left with Jamiella--a friend visiting me from LA) we walked to the village of BOURAY SUR JUINE the Chateau de Mesnil Voysin, a private chateau which was open to the public specially for JdPatrimoine. (More info & map on Chateau/gardens click here.)

We got a tour by a guy in his o-so-French red, white & blue wig (photo at right) who was chipper and informative at the early hour, showing us the grounds, the chateau and the pigonnier (outside of it pictured left above, inside in photos at right with Agnès and I listening attentively to our guide gives a nice sense of the angles, and another inside pictured at right shows the central oak suppoert which in fact turns on a pivot, so easily the guide pushed it with the use of a single finger! And this after 300 years!). This pigeonnier is one of the rare ones to have survived in great condition because many were attacked by farmers who had gotten fed up with the mess of them (this fascinating pigeonnier housed thousands of pigeons in the 1600 & 1700s for eating).

After climbing back down the ladder inside the tower or turret-like pigeonnier structure, we then we had some fresh-pressed apple juice at a stand (photo of me looking down at left is in front of a part of the juice pressing machinery: this one pulps the apples into a thick, crumble-use-size mash then it gets squeezed and pressed through physical exertion of the man explaining the process who turns a series of wooden press parts to squish out the juice which then must be drunk veryvery quickly before it ferments).

We then visited a few other stands by artisans there to show, for example, how ironwork, such as was used on grates and gates for Chateau renovations (see the gates in background of phopto at the right), was done, or molders who demonstrated how they created cement molds from remaining old sculptures which line gardens or fences of the chateau in order to replace the ruined old ones (such as you see behind Agnès and Florence in the picture at the right--the molding decor with the sort of faux flame on its top is reproduced over and over for a series of similar posts encircling this greeny patch in front of the chateau).

Our civic duty complete, patrimoine visited, support of the local schools completed with our juice and apple cake purchases, we then meandered out over fields. I was reminded of my St Jacques beginnings, only now many of what would have been wheat fields had been turned over, plowed, readied for the winter and new plantings next spring (if I am right in assuming planting is spring and not fall--I really don't know much about plants, and am a terrible gardener. I think I take after my mom that way, but she has gotten better at it, so perhaps I will, too, later!)

Though it had been chilly as we started, the day was sunny and warmed up nicely. Our leaders took us in a large large loop, along fields, through patches and paths in the woods. We saw a viper on a trail, and took some pictures from our lookout rock (called "La Roche Champignon") at our lunch hour, photo at right with agnès in blue, Lucy in green with baseball cap and in orange from the back we see Violaine. You can also see Florence in photo at the left above offering everyone tastes of her pomme-coing cream bought at the bio boulangerie we'd seen in the first village (the boulangerie pictured at top of blog, on left, with Jamiella in front of it).

After a siesta on the rock, we walked for a bit until we reached the village of Gillevoisin with its chateau-privé de l'institut médico-éducatif opened for the journée de patrimoine, with its series of surrounding buildings housing local art, bee/ beekeeping/ honeymaking displays, grounds with horses and donkeys in the tall grasses near the river, and music concerts put on with "Operation Aventure Musique". I was particularly struck by the artwork in its St Nicolas Chapel. The entire structure has a sort of fluidity, and a bizarre combination of joyful boyant colors yet quite dark expressions and figures contrasting the color scheme. Having seena gazillion churches this summer, the little chapel was particularly striking, its old fashioned outsides and this contemporary art within. We stayed to visit it, then on the grounds to listen to a few of the music groups: a honky tonk sort of contry mixed with a touch of bluegrass by an American trio, a big band (fanfare) by a French group from one village, & finally a soft French jazz group before we took off for the gare, trying to return to Landry, our point de départ.

A bit turned around in the woods--as the "two paths" photo here at left by Jamiella shows (we stand and wait to try and figure out which we want, or rather, we play the doubting Tom while Fred examines the map and picks the route). Our fearless leader, Fred, did scout us out the right path to the gare, and we headed back into Paris pleasantly drowsy around 8pm. Not a bad way to remember my Camino summer, and to also enjoy the benefits of being back home, with its constant fairs and cultural celebrations: one of the things I adore about Paris and France.

To go on next month's hike with the group or join up, click here: Randos-Ecolos.